Kalgoorlie (1939)

I arrived in Kalgoorlie on Thursday 26 January 1939. I was met at the station by the Post Office mailroom supervisor, “Paddy” McMorrow. Mr McMorrow took me up to where he had made arrangements for me to stay with Mrs Quealy and her family. The house was located at the east end of Dugan Street facing Porter Street which joined Dugan street in a right angle. The house was close to St. Mary’s Church. I had a front room to myself and had my breakfast and other meals there. Mrs Quealy was a kindly woman who looked after me very well but she did run things with a firm hand. The meals were quite good but a little different to what I had been used to in Norseman. My laundry was taken care of and the board I paid was reasonable.

My days in Kalgoorlie were a never-ending round of meeting new people, and making new friends which was something that I found easy to do. The Kalgoorlie-Boulder population was around 27,000 which certainly made things different for me after working in the quieter atmosphere of Coolgardie (1,500) and Norseman (3,000). 

Job seekers were travelling the ‘fields looking for work and they would use the Kalgoorlie Post Office as their address. If you did that I would see you sooner or later. A schoolmate of mine, Bernie Scott, came in one day and found me there. After a little chat he asked me for the loan of five shillings (50c) as he was broke. I dipped into my pocket for old times sake and did the right thing and he was off. He came back later in the afternoon and gave me five pounds ($10) for he had won some real money at the two-up. A few sets of heads off the kip could soon build up your bank. I do not remember ever seeing him again but maybe the War caused that.

On the personal side Bonnie and I were kept busy writing letters to and from Norseman. We missed each other but could do no more than write and have the occasional phone call to keep us happy. My sister Blanche (Alice) had spent the 1938 year teaching at the farm school at Collie. She was now to be a governess for some children at Banji-Warn Station (likely alternative spelling of Banjawarn Station) at Lake Darlot near Leonora, which is about 146 miles (236km) north of Kalgoorlie. I am not sure whether she stayed the whole year but I do remember her say­ing in one letter that the house at the station was riddled by white ants. She told me that as she walked around the house she was always putting her foot through the floor. A real rough place and there must have been other problems on a station like that. Later in 1939 she came back to Perth and joined the Commonwealth Public Service as a clerk on the permanent staff. Sensible girl. She worked in the Accounts Branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department and stayed there till after the end of World War II.

Elder brother Cecil was still working in the country at Cranbrook and letters from home told me that he was getting along alright. Mum and Dad and younger brother Roly were battling it out on the Herdsman’s Lake property, never knowing that fifty years later it would be worth a fortune as a high-rise residential block. Roly, who was now 15, had not returned to Perth Boys School earlier in the year for now most of his time was taken up at the stables. The horses were often taken to country meetings in a three-horse float that Dad had built with the help of a local garage owner. They had enough wins to keep things going reasonably well.

My annual holidays were due on 7 March and it was expected that I would take them as rostered. Everybody had to be fitted in and you could not take your leave when it suited you unless you had a special acceptable reason. So, after five weeks working in the Kalgoorlie office, I was off home to Perth for three weeks.

I had already arranged to go to Radio 6PM for a try-out as an announcer even if only to get the idea out of my system. There were four other chaps there for interviews and we were soon put to the test in the studio. We were given typed sheets of advert copy to look over and lists of classical composers. The wording of the ads was easy but the composers gave me some worries for the names did not match up with any of the writers of the music I listened to when playing hit parade records from my own collection. It was to be a few years before I took an interest in classical music with the acquisition of a recording of Wagner’sFlying Dutchman Overture”. 

Names like Chopin, Debussy, Puccini, and Bizet led to some easy mispronunciation. Dvorak was the worst and I was moved to ask one of the other applicants how that name was pronounced. He gave me the sort of frosty look some have reserved for peasants and said no more. Tchaikovsky was manageable for me then but now I can voice it easily like most people, and say and write it in Russian. Most names in music are no real problem to me now and if they happen to be Italian it is no trouble at all. Two staff announcers and one of the management heads handled the audition. I read the ads given to me and also a couple of my own and tackled the composers. The last part did not go too well for I mangled poor Dvorak and a few others. The man with the frosty look might have got the job.

No worry to me for I was happy with the Post Office, but right through life I was to be a person who looked closely at any new possibilities. I suppose this approach and where it took me in later years brought about this resume of my life as it worked out over the years. Apart from what happened to me, and many things were just everyday, putting the details on paper gives me the chance to mention other people. Most of this story I write as it happened but forgive me if sometimes I move into the future life of myself or someone else. Each person was a part of my life and without them there is really no story. A mention or two of their name gives the family history researcher one more link in a chain of times and places that make up the life of every individual.

When I returned to the town I did not go back to Mrs Quealy’s for I had made other arrangements. My landlady was now a Mrs Flo Eddy who let rooms at 13 Dugan Street. My new fellow boarders included Vic Godwin, a miner, Kevin Johnston, a clerk, and Jack Williams, a salesman. Mr and Mrs Bill Banton may have lived in the back of the house for some part of my stay there, if I recall it rightly. Bill was the foreman automotive mechanic at Attwood Motors, in Boulder Road, where RAC services were also available.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Monday 13 February 1939, page 6 – 13 Dugan. Source: Trove

Another boarder at No. 13 was Wally Stead who had the good fortune to be the Chief Engineer at Alice Cummings’ Kalgoorlie Brewery in Brookman Street. Miss Cummings was herself the Managing Director. Perc Johnson was the Secretary. The brewery’s representative, or the traveller, was Bob Miller who lived at the Exchange Hotel. He was the right man for the right job for he was over six foot tall and weighed around twenty stone (280 pounds or 127kg). Bob was often seen in the PO and around the town and his storytelling helped make him one of the best-known popular local identities. Wally took me for a quick look over the brewery and what I saw was of some interest to me. In Adelaide in 1928 we had lived in Kent Town, City, opposite a big brewery when we were residing on the corner of King William Street, at No. 1 or No. 2 Dequetteville Terrace. The small house was still there when we visited Adelaide in April 1988. It was in good shape and makes me think that it could now be a property under the eye of the National Trust. The main part of the Terrace is now used as the straight for the Adelaide Grand Prix races of the 1980s, and the site for the Dequetteville stand.

13 Dugan Street, ca 2010s. Source: Google

 

Sunday Times, Sunday 29 August 1937, page 30 – Hannans Lager (Kalgoorlie Brewing). Source: Trove

There were many hotels in Hannan Street to help keep the brewery going but not as many as in the heydays after Kalgoorlie became firmly established. A few lines here will place the local hotels, as I saw them in 1939/1940, on the record. Starting on the north side of the east end of Hannan Street there was the English-style hotel, the Duke of Cornwall, possibly run by someone named Doukas. It was (at 52 Hannan Street and the buildings still stands) between the Cremorne Theatre on its eastern side and the Cremorne Open-air Gardens on the corner of Porter Street.

Duke of Cornwall Hotel, ca 1900. Source: SLWA

On the opposite corner at No. 80, Montgomery Brothers the drapers started off the block of shops that ran down to Maritana Street. At 88a was the Twenty Grand Tobacconists, and an SP betting shop. The Grand Hotel at No. 90 was run by the Krause family. In 1931/2 Jim Larcombe, the co-finder with young Jim of the “Golden Eagle”, invested some of the gold money in the Grand Hotel before giving the name of that famous nugget to the hotel he bought in Boulder.

Grand Hotel, Kalgoorlie Source: outbackfamilyhistoryblog

Mack Dillon’s Australia Hotel was No. 138 on the north-east corner of Hannan and Maritana Streets, the main intersection for all the traffic coming into town from Perth and Boulder and down from the northern residential areas on the other side of the railway line. Some shops were part of the hotel buildings and one of them was for the commission agent or starting price (SP) bookmaker. It was next to one of the bars with an entrance from Maritana Street and it was run by Bill Brearley in most of my time, but before or after it could have been run by Fred Munyard. They were both easy-going chaps who knew the business of meeting the needs of the punters.

Sun, Kalgoorlie, Sunday 5 November 1939, page 2 – Fred Munyard. Source: Trove
Coolgardie Miner, Thursday 22 June 1939, page 7 – Australia Hotel. Source: Trove

Betting shops were alongside or handy to most of the hotels. They were tolerated by the police, rightly or wrongly, and raided on what seemed to be a roster basis. Luckily for most of the SP men they usually were not on the premises when the police arrived and the “stand in” man writing the tickets would be duly charged for “keeping a common betting house”, or if he was outside on the footpath writing bets, the bookie was “obstructing the traffic”. On the odd days that I visited SP shops I never saw “pinch” made, but we always heard if the police had been busy earlier. That sort of news travelled fast.

On one occasion the “stooge” was late and not outside the SP shop when the police came, so they drove around the block again and then picked him up. One day three starting price operators, who had stood in for the “pinch” at SP shops near the Criterion, Grand, and York Hotels, were charged and fined 50 pounds ($100) on the Monday. When you recall that an Adelaide Tailoring Co. quality suit sold with one spare pair of trousers could be bought for 4 pounds ($8), then that fine was a hefty one indeed.

West Australian, Tuesday 1 August 1939, page 17 – 50 Pound Penalty at Kalgoorlie. Source: Trove

West of the post office was Riley’s Commercial Hotel at No. 248, on the corner of Cassidy Street. Like other hotels I mention, it had two floors with the accommodation upstairs and the front rooms opening onto a verandah overlooking Hannan Street. The patrons’ SP needs were met by three shops on the opposite side of the street. After crossing Cassidy Street the next block had no hotels right down to the Town Hall. An earlier one was Quealey’s Hotel a few doors east of the Town Hall. It was run by a relative of Mrs Quealey who had been my landlady. It was later apartments. The hotels west of Wilson Street were the Hannans Hotel and the Star and Garter Hotel. Single-storied, they were on different sides of the street in the 500s. The Star and Garter Hotel was a block further west than the Hannans Hotel managed by Rod Beaton.

Sun, Kalgoorlie, Sunday 26 November 1939, page 2 – Hannans Hotel. Source: Trove
Coolgardie Miner, Thursday 16 November 1939, page 8 – Star and Garter Hotel. Source: Trove

 

Commercial Hotel, Kalgoorlie, 1963. Source: SLWA

Across Hannan Street from the Town Hall was Quinlan’s Kalgoorlie Hotel on the south-east corner of the Wilson Street intersection. It was built in the 1890s and is still doing well, despite the rumours of redevelopment. Like the other town hotels it was two­-storey but it had verandahs around the fronts. The single-storey pubs were the two down at the western end of Hannan Street.

Every goldfields hotel has its tales to be told but it is not for me to give the time and space to what has been written elsewhere by many writers who have well-written of their own experiences. I try to limit this chronicle of my life to things as they may have happened or I saw in my time, here or there, keeping my options open to move backwards and forwards in time, to add to stories.

Kalgoorlie Hotel, undated. Source: outbackfamilyhistoryblog.com

The York Hotel was at 259-263 Hannan Street going east back up to Cassidy Street. The licensee was Mrs Casey or a chap named Ferguson as I recall. There was a young fellow named Jack Carrot who used to work there before I arrived in Kalgoorlie but in his spare time, later full-time, he worked a gold mining claim with his dad at Morley’s Find. The Carrots prospected on a block given up by another “hopeful” and on going a little further down they struck it rich. In 1938 they took out 1,200 ounces of gold at around eight pounds ($16) an ounce and good parcels kept coming out of the ground well into 1939.

Sunday Times, Sunday 7 April 1940, page 1 – Hotel Changes Hands, York Hotel, Jack Carrot. Source: Trove

 

The Carrots continued to get as much as 20 ounces of gold to the cwt (hundredweight, 50kg) of stone. Much of the quartz was said to be literally hanging together with the support of the gold. Rich enough to get the attention of Western Mining who took out an option of purchase for around 30,000 pounds cash. Whatever deal was made, the last line of the story, and the reason for writing all this, is that young Jack Carrott used his share of the gold to buy the York Hotel in late 1939 and go back as the “boss’. Who has not wanted to do that sometime in their life?

Sunday Times, Sunday 7 April 1940, page 1 – Hotel Changes Hands, York Hotel, Jack Carrot. Source: Trove

 

Watson’s Oriental Hotel was on the south-west corner of Cassidy Street, diagonally opposite the Commercial. Half-way up the next block, and opposite the Post Office, was Wally Young’s Victoria Hotel. Wally came into the office often as he simply had to walk across the road. I came to know his two sons well as they were about my age and one or both played football with or against me. Wal Derby’s SP betting shop at 201 was next to the “Vic”, and the other Derby was back down the street at 243. I used to like going in to Wal’s place on “big race” days for there was plenty of room to stand off to one side and hear the broadcasts on his powerful radio. My favourite race caller, Jim Carroll, was then at his top.

Oriental Hotel, Kalgoorlie, undated. Source: outbackfamilyhistoryblog.com

The famous Palace Hotel (137-143) is on the south-west corner of the Maritana Street intersection. It was built in 1897 to a scale of splendour not seen on the goldfields before and lost nothing in comparison with the best city hotels. It cost 40,000 pounds ($80,000) (NOTE: Wiki says 17,000, Western Mail says at least “cannot be less than 25,000”) to complete and was beautifully furnished. Everybody of importance stayed at the Palace when visiting Kalgoorlie in the early days, and in my time when it was run by Mrs Violet Cook. It always seemed high-falutin to me when I was on 60/- ($6) a week, but in later years we stayed there. The magnificent jarrah stair­case has always been a must for posing on for photographs.

Palace Hotel, Kalgoorlie, March 1929. Source: SLWA

Western Mail, Perth, Friday 10 December 1897, page 160 – Palace Hotel Kalgoorlie. Source: Trove

The Exchange Hotel, on the opposite corner at 135, was run by Bill Trythall, a very well-known man on the goldfields. When you stood on the verandahs of the Palace or the Australia and looked over towards the Exchange it looked great. The gabled roof and the tower with a flagpole were complemented by the white railings and posts which ran right along the Hannan Street and Maritana Street frontages. The hotel’s red brick walls added to the whole effect.

Exchange Hotel, Kalgoorlie, 1935. Source: Trove

Eddie Oates’ betting shop, 131-133, was next to the Exchange Hotel and at No. 127 was the Kalgoorlie Miner’s three-storey building, the first such building in the town. The Criterion Hotel at No. 113-7 was another year 1900 hotel built in Old English style. Further up the street, past Porter Street, was the Federal Hotel at No. 1, run by Frank Forkin. I remember his daughter, a dark-haired girl, coming down to post letters and pick up other mail and parcels.

 Palace Hotel, Kalgoorlie, March 1929. Source: Trove

 

Federal Hotel, undated. Source: @CKBHistoryandHeritage
Kalgoorlie Miner Offices, Kalgoorlie, 1927. Source: Trove

Why should I write about hotels at all? They would have starved to death if they had relied on my custom for I have always been a rare visitor to the bar. A lemon squash was my usual and nobody minded that except for practical jokers who “spiked” my drink on a couple of occasions. More about that when it happens for there can be funny sides to almost everything. The odd thing about that “spiking” caper is that it is more likely to happen when you are among friends. Right through life I found that it is your friends who would like you to “let your head go” on this or that special occasion in your life, and have just one or two. It seems that non-drinkers do worry other drinkers who like to group up as one.

The hotels? Well, I write about them because they have been the great meeting places down through the years where people from all walks of life rub shoulders and lift elbows in surroundings they like. Hotels help people find the way in a town like Kalgoorlie. 

Whatever strangers were looking for was “just past the Palace”, or “just near the Vic, mate”, or “yeah, between the Oriental and the York”. Many hotels of the 1890s and 1900s are still standing, operating as pubs or residential accommodation, or changed to business use. The happenings within their four walls, and the tales told in the bars, have been a feast for the many raconteurs who had the gift for keeping us in fits with every story. One of these men, Arthur Dunstan, a long-term publican of Kalgoorlie and Perth, wrote a book that tells all and gives you a laugh on almost every page. His book “Publicans and Sinners” is worth a place in every library and on every bookshelf. He is the same young Arthur Dunstan who gets a mention in my earlier pages on Coolgardie where he was born and resided till he was 18 or so.

Hotels and betting shops were only part of Kalgoorlie’s business community. In Hannan Street the townspeople had a wide choice of retailers in many trades and services. Cafes and tearooms topped the list with grocers, butchers, and chemists not far behind. The drapers, mercers, tailors, and drycleaners kept us neatly dressed, and there were people like Ezywalkin’s and the Godenzis to keep our feet well shod. The Godenzis had shoe stores at 130 and 221 Hannan Street and one in Boulder. Mrs Godenzi was a bright person who came into the Post Office nearly every day. The family lived in Ward Street and were well-known and respected in the town.

I was a regular at some shops in the town for one of two reasons. The shops sold items or services that I needed often, or I knew someone that worked there. Most were in Hannan Street but there was one at 50 Maritana Street. It was a small shop where they had stocks of sweets and cool drinks and cakes. It could have been a paper shop as well. I came to shop there after I went to stay at Mrs Eddy’s for I passed the shop, run by the Higgs sisters, every day on the way to work. The two sisters were very helpful when I shopped there. Their names were Mavis Evelyn and Irene Ada.

When I was thirsty I would drop into one of the two Hannan Street shops run by Mr and Mrs Alf Kapp. Cool drinks, ice creams, fruit, and snacks could be had there. Two of the people who worked for the Kapps were Gladys Gaby and Herb Russell. Herb looked after the buying and the accounts for the Kapps. Mrs Kapp was earlier Mrs Russell, Herb’s mother. Glad used to be at the shop close to Cassidy Street, 232 Hannan Street. Glad and Herb were both very nice people and I was happy to find when I returned during the War that they had married in 1940/41. Later they ran the Kapp shop on the corner of Wilson and Dugan Streets. The Kapp top shop in Hannans Street was near the corner of Maritana Street at 142, next to Jack Bailey’s grocer shop on the corner. These shops were part of McKenzie’s Building where Nestle’s Chocolates store was. Bill Waddingham ran the store, and later in Perth was Nestle’s city traveller. I saw him in Perth in 1997/38. He lives in Yokine.

Cnr Hannan and Maritana Streets, Kalgoorlie, 1930 – McKenzie’s Building, Bailey’s grocery, Nestle’s. Source: SLWA

I was now nearly 20 and it would be another year and 4 months before I would become eligible to vote. It was not a matter that had any urgency for me as the voting rights entitlement and the accepted age of majority (21 years) were still a fair way ahead. My interest in politics was limited to the news from the papers and radio which centred around Prime Ministers and such leading men in Federal and State Parliaments. Everybody knew quickly when the Prime Minister, Joe Lyons, died on 7 April, and was succeeded by Sir Earle Page, as caretaker Prime Minister. Little did I know then that twenty years later I would be talking politics with Sir Earle and getting some good advice. The Page Ministry held office for nineteen days till 26 April when Robert Menzies, as the leader of the UAP, assumed control. In those same later years I was to meet Mr Menzies, who also would give me some advice and at the same time we would become well-known to each other.

While I was down on holidays in Perth, Dad told me that Syd Hubon, who I had trained with at Paddy Hubon’s boxing gym at Victoria Park in 1932/33, had won the State Lightweight Championship beat­ing Paddy Boxall (Woodall). Paddy was one of the junior football players that I had coached in 1935. On 7 April, at Hollywood Stadium, Boxall fighting at 9.9 (61kg) reversed the decision by winning the title from Syd, at level weights. I was glad to have known these lads and to meet them later, Paddy in the Air Force and Syd in his cleaning contract business in Perth.

In my time in Kalgoorlie the papers wrote up what happened to Ambrose Palmer in Melbourne. Palmer, Australia’s heavyweight boxing champion was badly injured in 1939 when playing football for Footscray. He collided (“shirt-fronted” was not in our vocabulary then) with an Essendon player and the result for Ambrose was two fractures in the lower jaw, a serious fracture behind each ear, a fractured cheekbone, and a fracture at the base of the skull. He was a long while recovering, and I do not think that he played again. There have been many serious injuries and some of these have been behind the play. More on them later.

I was a keen film fan but most of my new friends had girls to go with and it was often a case of “three’s a crowd”. I used to get my magazines and stationery odds and ends, like pens and ink, at J W Hair’s fancy goods and newsagency shop at No. 96, up near the Grand Hotel and became friendly with one of the girls that work­ed there, Naomi Bennetts. I was invited home for tea early in the friendship, as it was the usual custom for parents to meet their daughter’s friend and get to know him. Naomi was 15 and I was 19 and that seemed a big gap then. Anyway, I turned up on time at 12 Ward Street in Lamington, a northern suburb, and was met at the door by her father, George Bennetts. I remember sitting in the lounge while he chatted away with me in a quiet way but finding out a fair bit about me. I knew that he worked for the railways and was a member of the Kalgoorlie Council. In later years he was to be elected as a Member of the WA Legislative Council for the South/South-East Province, as a representative of the Labor Party and served from 1946 to 1965. He represented Kalgoorlie well. 

I met most of the family that first night. As well as Mum and Dad Bennetts there were Naomi’s sisters, Jewell and Ruth, and the younger brothers Ron and Ray. Soon we were sitting down to a nice dinner and then the talking slowed down while we ate. I remember Mrs Bennetts (Lillian) putting me at ease with a question or two which gave me the chance to talk about my parents and myself. The younger members of the family were keeping their eyes on me and could have been sizing me up as kids do. Everybody wanted to make me feel welcome, which they did. The Bennetts were a kindly family and I always looked forward to seeing them on the many times that I went there in the day, or later for tea or supper, or a party. Later I met Reg and Wally who had houses next to or near No. 12.

I met most of the family that first night. As well as Mum and Dad Bennetts there were Naomi’s sisters, Jewell and Ruth, and the younger brothers Ron and Ray. Soon we were sitting down to a nice dinner and then the talking slowed down while we ate. I remember Mrs Bennetts (Lillian) putting me at ease with a question or two which gave me the chance to talk about my parents and myself. The younger members of the family were keeping their eyes on me and could have been sizing me up as kids do. Everybody wanted to make me feel welcome, which they did. The Bennetts were a kindly family and I always looked forward to seeing them on the many times that I went there in the day, or later for tea or supper, or a party. Later I met Reg and Wally who had houses next to or near No. 12.

Kalgoorlie had three picture theatres. The Cremorne Theatre and Cremorne Gardens were at the east end of Hannan Street, and the Majestic was about half-way down the main northern side shopping block at 110. The  Regent Theatre and Gardens were on the north­ west corner of Hannan and Wilson Streets, opposite the Town Hall. I think the Majestic closed during the summer for everybody went to the open-air gardens at either the Cremorne or the Regent. The early evening temperatures would be in the high nineties (34+ C) and you would go along in shirt sleeves and settle down in the deck chairs with your friend or friends to see the show. Shortly after the interval the “Esperance doctor” would arrive and you would find it hard to keep warm, in fact you would almost freeze. In Norseman we had the same problem so I should have been awake to it in my new town. Luckily it was a problem easily solved by the locals who took coats and rugs. When the summer weather was over the screenings were switched back inside the three theatres.

Dancing was very popular on the goldfields and I remember that the Caledonian Hall in Brookman Street put on 50/50 programmes of old-time and modern dancing that attracted good crowds. Ladies paid 1/6 (15c) and gents 2/- (20c). Lessons in the latest steps for dances like the Palais Glide and the Trek were given to all the dancers as part of the show. I sometimes went along when the cycling or football clubs were having a “do” but I was no Fred Astaire. One of my faults has been that if I cannot do something well then I do not get involved in it much. Years later I did take some lessons and improved my style a bit.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Tuesday 21 March 1939, page 6 – Caledonian Hall Dancing. Source: Trove

Dancing was also held at the Railway Institute and the Palais Royal (at the Palace Hotel). Sometimes the Palais orchestra was all Perth musicians and they would present a 50/50 card with novelty items as well. Lee McAlinden ran one group and led the music on trumpet, with Sid Smith on the piano, Colin Saunders and Ron Richards both on the saxophone, Ralph Filmer with string bass, and Roy Miller on drums. Ron was a wizard on the sax and I only remember one man who played better, and that was Dave Howard, well-known to ABC listeners. Lee McAlinden I knew well when I worked in my first job in 1934 at Charlie McAlinden’s advertising and window displays business at 575 Wellington Street, Perth. Lee was a very outgoing person and was much involved in music and stage shows. I do recall one story relating to a slight mishap in one of Lee’s presentations on stage when the chorus was tripping back and forth across the stage with great gusto. Suddenly one of the girls snapped a bra strap and all was revealed. The show must go on and it did amid loud applause. The city fathers and the other authorities were not amused. No repeat performances were allowed.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Wednesday 10 May 1939, page 6 – Palais Royal. Source: Trove

 

Railway Institute, ca 2013. Source: realcommercial.com.au

Naomi and I had become good friends and went to the pictures when we liked a program. We would have seen films like Love Finds Andy Hardy with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland starring and firm but kindly Lewis Stone playing the part of Judge Hardy, the father. Mickey Rooney was starring in films and on stage 50 years later. Dad and Dave Come to Town with Bert Bailey as Dad, and Fred MacDonald as Dave, would have been seen by everybody in town, for the radio serial about the same family was top listening right around Australia. The theme music drew us all to the programme.

Dad and Dave Come To Town, 1938. Source: Wiki
Love Finds Andy Hardy 1938. Source: Wiki

The pictures were always a good night out. We usually went to the Majestic. A nice girl, “Gussie” (Augustine?) McGuinness was one of the two usherettes. She knew many of the filmgoers and always had a smile and a few words with them. After the show was over we would have a cool drink or supper, and then walk or tram to Ward Street. Now and then we would have supper at the Bennetts home.

If there is one particular person that I remember from show folk it is “Bud” Atkinson, the advance publicity man of the road show, “Cole’s Varieties”. Bud spoke with an American accent and was a plump fellow of below-average height. He had plenty of dash and was in and out of the office two or three times a day picking up all the mail addressed c/o Coles Varieties Show. We soon became friendly once he found that the PO service was OK and he would have an occasional chat about the show. It was his job to arrange the press and radio publicity and get the coloured show posters into hotels and on display elsewhere. One publicity theme for the first few nights was, “See Cole’s Varieties with ‘Whacko’ Gilbert and the ‘Garden of Eden’ Revue”.

There were 40 players in the company and they performed in the canvas theatre set up on the corner of Brookman Street and Wilson Street close to the Regent Theatre and the Town Hall. The marquee was waterproof and warm and comfortable, and it was able to be heated on colder nights. I had not made any plans to see the show but Bud made up my mind for me when he gave me two tickets for the Saturday night performance. When Naomi and I arrived we were shown to two of the best seats in the house right in the front row where we had a clear view of the whole show. The program had plenty of variety and the chorus girls, the specialty dancers, and the comedians and the straight role players, all backed up by the musicians, gave us a good night’s entertainment. The comedy star of the Cole’s Varieties was Whacko Gilbert and he was ready to cater to a broad-minded goldfields audience. One joke which I do not repeat here was over the fence a bit and was embarrassing to any young fellow taking out a young lady. I sat there astounded and did not know what to say or do. I had never been one for “blue” jokes being told to mixed groups and I still take that view. I suppose that at the shows the unexpected can be expected. The joke made me blush. Later when I apologised to Naomi for taking her where such things happened she told me that it was alright and she understood. These things are part of life’s experiences along the way I suppose, and should go on record in this life story.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Tuesday 16 May 1939, page 2 – Cole’s Varieties. Source: Trove

 

Kalgoorlie Miner, Tuesday 16 May 1939, page 2 – Cole’s Varieties. Source: Trove

July was my birthday month and I am sure I was sent one pound ($2) to buy myself something useful like clothes. A pound was half-way to getting a double-breasted overcoat at 39/6 (4$) to help keep out the winter chill, and that is what I would have done. Leather overcoats were twice that price, and too dear for my pocket. As I think of clothes I recall Hugh Gunnell who had a dry-cleaning shop in Maritana Street. Hugh was friendly with everybody and the boys from the football and cycle clubs knew him well. He would be in and out of the Post Office during the day picking up parcels of drycleaning sent in from the bush. After the War I met up with him in Perth when he had a dry-cleaning shop up in Hay Street West, near the north-west corner of Colin Street. We had many a chat in the 1950s and 1960s.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Monday 27 March 1939, page 1 – Gunnel’s Dry Cleaning. Source: Trove

Early in July 1939 Kalgaorlie had a visit from the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies. Young people in the town and elsewhere did not give a very high priority to politics but some of us did go to the meeting at the Town Hall. None of us had ever seen such a VIP before and we went along to look at him, as much as to hear him. 

The Prime Minister opened his address with, “I have never been in Kalgoorlie or Boulder before”. A voice from the back of the hall interrupted, “And you won’t be here again”. Menzies smiled in that tolerant way he reserved for interjectors, “Don’t worry. Next time I am here I will be as Prime Minister and you’ll be making the same interjections”. More of his quips later.

Age, Melbourne, Wednesday 19 July 1939, page 11 – PM Heckled, Kalgoorlie. Source: Trove

 

Whatever his critics have said over the years, R G Menzies was a kindly man with a good sense of humour when the occasion arose to use it. One story from his visit to the goldfields concerns his arrival in Kalgoorlie by train. When the express arrived his VIP carriage was detached from the rest of the train and left standing at the main platform in the space normally used on the same day for the northern line train. While the PM was stretching his legs with a short walk a young lady came up to him and asked, “Is this the Menzies train?” The PM gave her a warm smile as he tipped his hat and said, “No, Miss, this is the Mr Menzies train”.

A week later my friend, Bill Kingsbury, was off to West Perth for the rest of his long football career. He had played earlier in the year for them, probably on a permit, but now he was off for good. His teammates from the Kalgoorlie “A” grade (Kangas) gave him a send-off at the railway station for it was a big deal in those days to be signed up by a city league club. I don’t think that the club captain/coach, big and strong Ted Holdsworth, could be there as he was in hospital with the mumps. I cannot raise a smile remembering that, for I was in the hospital myself the very next day with the same complaint. There was an epidemic of mumps in the town and the men were going down with the more serious and painful variety, “orchitis”. No details of the complaint or the treatment will be given here. We were all lucky we didn’t finish up with squeaky voices.

Some high-pitched voices were heard in Kalgoorlie while I was in hospital, for the Viennese Boys Choir stopped off towards the end of their world tour, after visiting the Eastern States. The Choir boys gave two or three “full house” performances in Kalgoorlie. The conductor was Dr Georg Gruber. It was not all sing and no play. In between concerts they looked the local area over and played a soccer match against an Eastern Goldfields team from local schools. Our boys outweighed the singers and defeated them 6-1, but it must be said that it was only the second time that they had been defeated on their Australian tour.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Friday 15 September 1939, page 7 – Homes for Stranded Boys. Source: Trove

The Viennese Boys Choir was world-famous and their concerts drew big audiences wherever they performed. The boys sang sacred songs and folk songs, and in their special numbers included such items as the “Blue Danube”, “Last Rose of Summer” and, if you please, “Waltzing Matilda”. Their voices were not to be heard at concerts in Europe for some time for the Hitler armies which “peacefully” occupied Austria in 1938 took a firmer hold when War was declared about a week after their Kalgoorlie concerts. I am not sure what happened to them all but I seem to remember that some of the boys were boarded out in the Eastern States till the War was over.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Wednesday 9 August 1939, page 7 – Vienna Boys’ Choir. Source: Trove

 

My “incarceration” in the infectious diseases ward was to last 14 days with another week off prescribed by my doctor who happened to be Dr Violet Eville, the wife of Dr Morris Gorman.

I was off the job for six days and advised by Dr Eville to avoid contact with other people as much as possible. I did this for the first few days with Mrs Eddy looking after me for meals, but when I felt a bit better one day I walked down the town for tea. The Postmaster (Mr Egan) spotted me and when I went back to work on the eighth day, a Monday, he called me over to his office and gave me a lecture. His view of the rules and regulations was that if I was on sick leave it was wrong of me to be walking about the town. How would that go down with today’s “sickie” takers?

Around the town things were going on as usual. Gold was holding steady at around 10 pounds ($20) an ounce and it was still coming out of the ground. In those days there were small mining “shows” throughout the eastern goldfields. Many were worked by one or two prospectors who were happy chasing the precious metal out in the wide-open spaces. My Dad later prospected out Kambalda way but did not know much about nickel. He, and others, tossed it back. 

My favourite mine, the Blue Bird at Norseman, was still treating some remarkable parcels of gold ore, one giving up over 100 ounces of gold from 100 lbs (45kg) of specimen stone. New cars were still being bought, for petrol rationing was still a year away and you could fill your tank for 2s6d (25c) a gallon (4.8 litres) for ordinary grade fuel and for 27c a gallon super.

The law was kept busy with all the everyday offences that happen in and around all goldfields towns. SP betting offences, traffic accidents, drinking drivers, unlicensed motorcyclists, petty crime, raids on illegal two-up games, were all part of their job. Some of the policemen used to come into the Post Office on their official or private business and I came to know some of them. Sgt Rowbottam used to handle many of the police prosecution cases but I simply remember him as an unsmiling man who always seemed to have his face half-turned to one side, but this may have been the effect of the way he wore his felt hat when not in uniform. The two detectives I recall are Detectives Pilmer and Cannon, and I also remember Constable Vivian, as maybe riding a police bicycle.

On the traffic patrol and control side I recall the name of one Traffic Inspector Mr Angel and a chap named Wally Leggett. Wally often used to talk with us about his patrolling job which I think was with the Town Council or Road Board. Wally had a Harley Davidson motorbike possibly and he used to wear the right gear. His “uniform” was blue shirt, dark trousers, black boots and black leather leggings all set off with black gloves and a peaked cap, and dark glasses to match. When he went out on the road to keep an eye out for errant drivers he meant business but back in town and yarning with us he was a pretty good chap. Wally Leggett was one of the town’s characters. Most of us could not drive then so we were never likely customers for him. It was during the war that we learnt to drive at the wheel of jeeps in faraway places.

One happy event for the local residents was the annual cleaning of the Olympic Pool after the winter closure. The pool was built at a cost of 32,000 pounds ($64,000) in 1938 and was officially open in time for the Xmas holidays. Many overseas and Australian champions were attracted to the pool including the great Japanese swimmer, Kyoshi (Keo) Nakama, and the two West Australian water wonders, Dorothy Green and Percy Oliver. Dot Green was later on the staff when the pool reopened for big crowds early in October 1939. Some of the first customers for the year were our group of footballing friends who were regular Sunday users of the pool when the warm weather came. Swimming underwater till one’s rapid intake of air nearly ran out was the “in” thing with us then, but from what I read now about such practises, we may have done the wrong thing.

Kalgoorlie Swimming Pool on official opening day 24 Dec. 1938. Source: SLWA
Kalgoorlie Miner, Friday 6 October 1939, page 3 – Kalgoorlie Pool. Source: Trove

Swimming was one form of entertainment and harmonising another. The goldfields were always well served by travelling musicians and concert groups and in October the “Comedy Harmonists” arrived. The Kalgoorlie Town Hall was the priority venue for such visitors and a good crowd attended their “one night only” performance. Tickets were 6/- (60c) and 4/- (40c) reserved, and 2/- (20c) unreserved. The group had tremendous versatility and could sing any of the older or newest songs in a blend of harmony that was a delight to hear. The public response to the concert was met by another “one night only” performance given in the Boulder Town Hall. 

There were six men in the group and as they were in Australia when War was declared they applied for permission to stay in this country with a view to becoming naturalised Australian citizens. Three of the singers were Jews who were born in Germany and were forced to leave in 1932 for their own protection. Two were born in Austria and were last there in 1934, and the sixth man was a Pole. Three of the singers had their wives with them. I do not know how things turned out for them during the War and after but curiosity is a weakness of mine and I will try to find out what happened (NOTE: Wiki records indicate that they were offered Australian citizenship but after a North American tour were unable to return to Australia).

Sun, Kalgoorlie, Sunday 8 October 1939, page 5 – The Comedy Harmonists. Source: Trove

 

The last week of the Xmas rush was soon upon us and nothing today resembles those hectic days. Queues at the counter all day long and no let-up at all. Still not fully built up again after the ongoing effects of the mumps and the measles, I fell victim to an attack of gastroenteritis on Friday 22 December. When I felt the first symptoms in my tummy the senior postman, Johny Craig, who was a friend and adviser told me that the only “on-the-spot” cure for it was a port and lemon. Non-drinker that I was, any port in a storm was welcome and I slipped across to the “Vic” for ­the cure. I battled on for a couple of hours but the stomach pains persisted and Johnny was there to help me out. “Just pop back to the pub and have another one of the same and you’ll be right.” Over I went to the “Vic” and back I came. Temporarily I was in a better frame of mind having started to “warm up” a bit as the two drinks started to have an effect on me. I became over ­effusive with my counter customers and quite light-hearted when passing stamps and letters across the counter. Luckily, closing time arrived before I came under official notice in a serious way and immediately I was off to see my doctor. Dr Eville checked me over and advised seven days rest, a light diet and no alcohol. When I told Johnny about that last bit he saw it as a great joke. 

Dr Eville checked me over at the end of the week and told me that I had been working too hard on the job and with the cycle club, and I needed a good rest. When I told her that I was due to go on leave to Perth on 22 January she put me on sick leave from New Year’s Day til the 22nd. At the same time I felt that I had better reign as secretary of the cycle club and have a break from the pressure of that appointment.

Kalgoorlie (1940)

Enjoying life back in Perth (on holidays) moved me to think about applying for a transfer back to the city but the pull of the goldfields was too strong. I had enjoyed every day of my time in Coolgardie and Norseman: always at first a little hesitant to move on from where life and people were good to me. Each change was soon adjusted to and Kalgoorlie was no different. New experiences and new friends seem to be an essential part of living as you move along life’s pathway to the end of the road mapped out for you. 

There are some who believe that your life is already pre­destined. Everything that will happen to you is already laid out on a long time chart and you just move on from what has happened, or is happening, to the next point on the chart where another new experience, or another person or place, comes into your life. You keep moving forward alongside that chart I suppose till you reach your first and last STOP sign. However, who wants to know too much too early, or more about the future than may be good for you?

Several of us (football friends) spent a fair amount of time together during the warmer months when we used to spend our free evenings taking it easy at the Victoria Park Gardens. They were north of Porter Street and not far from Hannan Street. I used to take along my record player and a dozen or so records and entertain our group with the popular songs and music. The boys all had to take their turn at winding up the gramophone for each time you changed a record the drive spring needed to be rewound by a handle. Our small group included Elsie and Peggy Sloan and Molly Moon, and the fellows were Jack Vincent, Peter Moss, Bill Gill and myself, and maybe Alan Jones. We were all simply friends who enjoyed conversation and listening to music on the hot nights that drove many people to the park. Sometimes we would have cool drinks or an ice cream on the way home, or even supper around payday. They were pleasant evenings and I remember them well.

Victoria Park Gardens, Kalgoorlie, ca 1950. Source: SLWA
Kalgoorlie Miner, Friday 12 April 1940, page 7 – 13 Dugan Street Party. Source: Trove

I was now (March, 1940) having my evening meals at the well-known Golden Mile Dining Rooms run by Miss Somerville, a very efficient person who ran her business well and saw that we had good meals. Her dining room staff were wisely chosen and the waitresses looked after us very well. Wherever you used to dine regularly you always had a favourite waitress, whether she was younger or older, and for me at “G M” it was “Essie”. She was a pleasant young woman and had black hair, sometimes twisted behind her head in a little bun. Essie (short for Esther?) was about 24 and nice looking. 

It was nice to have someone in a dining room to give you a smile and a cheery greeting as you came into dinner. Usually for me this was straight after I finished work at six o’clock. This meant that I could be finished my meal in time to meet my friend or friends at around 7.15pm on the nearby Bailey’s Corner. If I had to go home to change on special nights my room at 13 Dugan Street was only two short blocks away.

Good waitresses remember what you like to order and where you like to sit, and if you were friendly they would have a little chat with you when they were not busy. In turn when Essie came down to the Post Office as a customer the same friendly service was the order of the day for her also. Essie later married Jim Giles, a well-known local personality, and they later lived in Victoria Park, around the mid-1950s. 

Socially I had been in a flat spot for a little while as Naomi and I were not going out together as we had been. I seem to recall that at the time I was heading for 21 and the people I was mostly mixing with tended to be about the same age. Naomi was maybe 16 then and the age difference may have been a factor in the change. However, we remained friends as I did with the Bennetts family right down through the years. In recent times we have visited Naomi and her husband, Ken Beardman, at their home in Mandurah, whenever we have been down that way.

Life brings its little surprises and that’s the way it should be. If we knew what was going to happen in life there would never be any unexpected happy moments. I had a surprise early one evening after dining at the “G M” dining rooms. I had just said goodbye to Essie and paid my bill at the counter, and when I stepped out onto the footpath I stopped to pat the Alsatian that guarded the door. From behind me a delightful voice said, “Watch out, he might bite you”. I turned around to see one of the nicest looking girls I had ever seen. I was stunned for the moment, but then we were introducing ourselves and walking along the street talking.

Her name was Kathlyn Cruickshank and she was 19. She lived just a block or two away at 126 Egan Street, opposite the School of Mines. It was still quite light so we walked along Maritana Street and then into Hannan Street to do a bit of window shopping while we talked. Kathy had worked at Montgomery’s Store, on the corner of Porter and Hannan Streets, since she and her sister Maisie had arrived from Menzies early in 1940. Later other members of the family came down to Kalgoorlie to live at the Egan Street house.

Kalgoorlie Miner, Friday 26 May 1939, page 6 – Naomi Bennets 16th Birthday. Source: Trove

Window-gazing over, I walked Kath home and we made a time to meet again next day. Soon I was being invited home to meet her mother and have tea. Mrs Cruickshank was a nice person and she made me most welcome when I visited her home for tea or supper. Kathy was an elder sister of Norma who was attending the Convent School at Coolgardie when I was in the town in 1937/38, as written earlier.

It was nice to be keeping company again and Kathy and I enjoyed many evenings out together and at her home. The special thing about friendships in our young days was that they were just that, friendships. Sincere and enjoyable but not complicated in any way. We simply enjoyed each other’s company till for no real reason at all we might mutually agree to go separate ways again. Kathy and I did part company later in the year but we did stay friends and met each other again in the Air Force, and in the post-war years as late as 1988. Luckily for all our friends then, young people did not have the same peer group and advertising pressures on them, in regard to alcohol, smoking, and drugs, that bear down on young people now. Today the media and some of their advertisers have a lot to answer for. The banning of smoking ads on television was a step in the right direction.

If Kalgoorlie was not to be quite the same ever again this may be the best place to write into these pages the names of some of the locals of my time not yet mentioned. The bank chaps I met included Mr Kelly from the Commonwealth who used to bring in valuable banknote packages for posting by registered mail. He was always accompanied by a security man, and sometimes had one of the young clarks with him. One of the bank’s clerks who I became friendly with was Jack Fowler. He joined the RAAF as an aircrew trainee. He later was posted to New Guinea as a Hudson pilot with 100 Squadron only to be killed in a collision with another Hudson in very bad weather over the Aitape airstrip on 13 March 1945.

Eddie Hanson (“Uncle Eddie”) of 6KG joined up as an air gunner with the RAAF and was later based in Britain. He was promoted to Warrant Officer and was awarded the DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal). He went back into radio in Perth after the war. Jack Gibbings from 6GF and Arthur Dunstan of the Mount Lyall Hotel first joined up as RAAF aircrew trainees. Frank Ball, who worked in the Public Works Department, a few doors west of the PO, was often in our office and I came to know him well. He joined the RAAF in 1940 as a trainee pilot and did his early training in Western Australia. I met him again at Geraldton when he did his more advanced training in 1941. He finished up flying Liberator bombers in the southwest Pacific where he gave distinguished service. After the War he joined the TAA and eventually was made General Manager for Australia.

There were the Colgan brothers, Les, Stan and Laurie, who were next door to the Post Office with their 10-table billiards saloon at the back of the Mechanics Institute Library. Many of us learnt to play billiards there without leading a misspent youth. For a quick game we preferred billiards to snooker, as we were able to play for 15 minute periods, timed by an alarm clock, for sixpence (10c). We used to play game about with friends but occasionally we would play strangers on a loser pays basis. You won some and lost some, but when somebody showing average form became keen to up the stakes and play for 2/- (20c) a game or more it was better and cheaper to hang up your cue. Some young fellows lived on the game. The Colgan brothers, Laurie was the younger one, treated us well and saw that the well-lit tables were kept in good order. I always enjoyed going there and having a few games with friends.

Goldfields Observer, Kalgoorlie, Sunday 25 December 1938, page 2 – Les Colgan Billiards. Source: Trove

In my time a chap named Bill Abotomey ran the saloon near to the Majestic Theatre but I seldom went there. I saw some night games of Kelly’s pool played but the police frowned on it like two-up, so there was always a chance of a raid and that was not for me. The world’s greatest billiard player, Walter Lindrum, was born in Kalgoorlie. The family later lived in Melbourne. His father, brother Fred, sister Violet, and also his nephew Horace, were all Australian or world champions at billiards or snooker, or both.

Between Colgan’s and the PO was the barber shop where we used to drop in for a light trim and a chat with Jim Gowdie. A few shops closer to Maritana Street was Herb Blacker’s food store and then George McKernan’s menswear store. Herb and George were both happy, outgoing fellows with their customers and I had many a chat with them. There were several chemists in Kalgoorlie and I do remember two of them well. Bert Elliott, a taller man with horn-rimmed glasses, had his pharmacy next to the Australia Hotel. My friend Tom Bowen worked for him in the shop and no one knew then that Tom would be in that business for about 50 years. Tom was a great community man and rendered invaluable service to many groups and sporting clubs especially the GM trotting club. Another chemist I was friendly with was Dick Baugh.

Coolgardie Miner, Thursday 28 November 1940, page 1 – McKernan’s. Source: Trove
Kalgoorlie Miner, Tuesday 5 September 1939, page 8 – Jim Gowdie. Source: Trove

Mrs Cairnduff ran a lottery ticket agency next to Bert Elliott’s pharmacy, and it may have been a hairdressers and tobacconists as well. She was an elderly lady who used to be down to the Post Office every day probably to post sweep ticket butts away and collect new supplies of tickets. The football clubs used to run weekly sweeps and the players and supporters of the four clubs would sell tickets at their workplaces and around the town. On Friday nights we would gather on Bailey’s corner to try and sell the last tickets while we waited for a collector to pick the butts up to take them to the Oval. The top ticket seller was an old chap named “Crock?”. He used to sell tickets for the four clubs and was paid a special commission for his high sales ratio. He would often join us for a few minutes when we were sitting against the window frame of Jack Bailey’s store passing the time.

Sun, Kalgoorlie, Sunday 29 January 1939, page 7 – Cairndruffs. Source: Trove

1940 was the year I turned 21 and became eligible to vote in the Federal and State elections. The Federal elections in September gave me a chance to have a say in the ballot box, although I had not taken much interest in current affairs, except for the War.

The sitting member was Albert Edward (Texas) Green MHR representing the Australian Labor Party and my first vote in any election went to him. I am not sure why but his name was always in the news, and it was said that he was doing a good job. Texas Green was born in Victoria in 1869 and in 1895 worked at the Coolgardie Post Office. In 1911 he was elected to the State Parliament as Member for Kalgoorlie. He switched to the Federal Parliament when he was elected Federal Member for Kalgoorlie on 16 December 1922. He was appointed Postmaster General 1931/32 which was a big step up for someone who had worked at the Coolgardie Post Office. The sad aspect of Mr Green’s re-election in the September 1940 voters’ poll was that he died just three weeks after polling day.

One could hazard a guess that Coolgardie was the only Post Office that ever saw two of its staff go to Canberra as Federal Members of Parliament at one time or another, and the same two men serve in the State Legislative Assembly, in widely separated years in the State’s history. Texas Green was one, and the other? Well, the answer to that is easy enough, but more of that story in the later pages that will relate the events of the years after 1958.

I was anxious to spend the weekend at home (after army training) and return to Kalgoorlie ready for work on Tuesday 10 December (1940). I know that I had to take a day PMG work leave to have the Monday off. I may have spent that at Herdsman’s Parade but could have returned to Kalgoorlie on the Sunday night express so that I could settle in again at Mrs Eddy’s at 13 Dugan Street. She had made sure that my room was vacant for my return. A kindly lady.

We had only been away for three months but for all of us there were some adjustments to be made particularly in our daily lives. Our army life had not only toughened us up but it had given us a more mature approach to many things. We were now seen by our friends in a different light as most of us were certain to be back in uniform within a short while, and headed for a battle zone somewhere and an uncertain future. The war brought changes in people and in the community. The strong goldfields response to the recruiting drives for the three services soon had an effect on sporting groups as willing volunteers enlisted. One example of that was the decision of the Eastern Goldfields Cycle Club not to run the 1940 Menzies-Kalgoorlie. The next one was held in 1948.

There we were with the Xmas rush on in the Post Office and little time to spare for chatting across the counter or elsewhere and I was just three weeks away from having to say my goodbyes again. The waiting time passed quickly and I was glad of that. Once we were involved in the War we wanted to get on with it and help in some way to get it over and done with. We never thought it would be nearly five years before it would end.

In the last two weeks before I headed for Perth I made the rounds visiting people like the Bennetts family at Ward Street who had been so kind to me during my two years in Kalgoorlie. There was a special goodbye to Naomi for we had enjoyed a nice friendship and many happy outings at the pictures, and even a trip or two to the races and weekend picnics. There were Mrs Cruickshank and Kath to see as I had fond memories of my welcome to their Egan Street home.

I said goodbye to Dorrie Hughes from the Green Heart Milk Bar in Hannan Street near Montgomery’s. We were good friends. When she worked late or helped with the picture crowds I used to walk her home along Hannan Street. It would then be around 11 o’clock and on summer nights it could be freezing. The Hughes home was at 501, next to the Star and Garter Hotel and was about six or seven blocks from town. We would chat at the front gate for a short while and then it was goodnight, and for me the long walk home to my diggings at 13 Dugan Street. I remember the afternoon when we had been walking around town and dropped into Kapp’s Hannan Street shop near the Maritana Street corner for refreshments. It was early on in our friendship and Dorrie was shy about ordering.

I suggested that she order anything she liked. She chose to have strawberries and ice cream and I likewise, with cool drinks. When we were leaving I went to pay but found my pockets empty. I had changed clothes for the outing and had left all my money at home. Mr Kapp would have stood me but Dorrie was quick to come to the rescue. She never would let me pay that back so I still owe her. We talked over that little episode the last time we had a chat. I am happy to say here that in 1988 I had the pleasure of having a cup of tea with Dorrie, with Naomi, and with Kath at their own homes in and near Perth. Nice friends and happy days. 

Kalgoorlie Miner, Saturday 21 December 1940, page 6 – Kapp’s Shop. Source Trove. Source: Trove

News travels and there were farewells over the counter and in the street. My last day at work was handshaking all around with a few parting remarks wishing me well and reminding me to look after myself. The diggers of the Great War of 1915-18 echoed all the good wishes and in fun added a couple of “you’ll be sorry” shots to help me on my way. 

On the last day it was goodbye to my landlady Mrs Flo Eddy. She had been very kind to me during my long stay at 13 Dugan Street. She had relatives named Reynolds who lived in Mildura and I can recall one girl about 20 or so, perhaps a niece, coming to stay at the house during my time. Her name could have been Margaret or Marjorie. There were changes in lodgers occasionally for I think that Wally Stead and Vic Godwin moved to new houses. It was newer friends like Jack Williams and Kevin Johnston who were wishing me goodbye at No. 13. Kevin, a tall good looking chap, was a clerk in the Public Service who later joined the Air force. Jack was about 25 or so and I remember him as a bit of a dasher with a small moustache. He worked at Bunnings. As recently as late 1987 we met as opponents in a pennant bowls match at the Floreat Park Club.

Kalgoorlie – Cash Family

By now (late 1940?) the family had sold out the Herdsman’s Lake property and moved to Kalgoorlie undeterred by their bad luck when they took a team of pacers to the goldfields in 1941. They bought a house (possibly corner Vivian and Hamilton Streets, Boulder)and Dad built four horse boxes and a couple of open stalls at the back. It was not far from the local track and suited their needs. Horses do not guarantee a living so Mum and Dad opened a tearooms and cake shop in Hannan Street (possibly at 241). That kept them going, and the nags fed, till success came along. Roly went home to Kalgoorlie for Xmas and this was made easier by him being attached to No. 4 Aircraft Depot at Kalgoorlie from Xmas Eve till the first week in January 1943. He then had to report to No. 5 ITS (Initial Training School) at Clontarf where he would begin a trainee course that would later take him on to Cunderdin and Geraldton, and Europe.

Clackline (1944)

My people (late 1944) now leased a small (200 acres) rural property where they could spell the horses and get a break for themselves. It was named “Happy Valley” and was situated at Clackline which is about 7km past Bakers Hill and 18km before Northam. It bordered on the General Store and Post Office on the main road, and the railway line near the bridge over the cutting, and then ran east and south. It had hills to walk up and over, and a winter/spring creek to sit beside. It was a nice place to spend a few days. I remember the first time I went there. We were carting necessary essentials up to the farm on a light Chevrolet truck with an open flat tray. On it we had a fair-sized rainwater tank which we had chocked and tied to stop it coming to grief. We left the city about dusk and made the top of Lesmurdie before it was time for lights on. When we went for the lights we found they were not working too good. We motored on regardless as there were blackout-lamp requirements anyway. Traffic was very light so our slow progress did not hinder anyone behind. We had a few problems when a long Army convoy headed for Perth filled one side of the narrow road but a burst of bright moonlight saved the day/night. Our last problem was the track down to the house but we made it.

Western Mail, Perth, Thursday 26 February 1942, page 6 – Beating the Bombers. Source: Trove

In September Mum and Dad were there for a few weeks so I took Joan up to meet them. Dad met us at the station and we spent a nice weekend there. We walked over the property and drove the horse and jog cart to the store. I saddled the horse up for a gallop, and drove about the farm. Hundreds of rabbits were about at night waiting to be caught. Near the haystack you could shine a torch on them and use a stick or a hand chop to break their neck. It was kinder than the traps as far as I was concerned. Rabbit has always been one of my favourite dishes and it was something the family was always ready to cook. Stewed rabbit is a real treat. I favour rabbit over chicken so perhaps later on we might see the fast food merchants get into the act. Maybe one day we will see a “Hoppy’s Rabbit” next door to a “Kentucky Chicken”? On the Sunday we caught the train back to Perth and easily recall those happy days when we look again at the photos we took there.

Joan Cash, Happy Valley, Clackline, 1944 – horse and cart. Source: Cash Family

 

Joan Cash, Happy Valley, Clackline, 1944. Source: Cash Family
Northam Advertiser, Saturday 12 January 1946, page 4 – Clackline Notes, Bushfire Outbreak. Source: Trove
Daily News, Perth, Saturday 9 September 1944, page 18 – Impounded. Source: Trove

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